SFUK followers Jane Gallacher and Richard Hill share their views on the new documentary ‘Never Be Done – The Richard Glen Lett Story’. A film that follows Lett’s journey through addiction to drugs and alcohol, his rehabilitation and ultimately his recovery.
I am not sure what Director Roy Tighe’s original intent was when he began filming the Canadian comedian Richard Lett but I am almost certain he didn’t expect this result. Tighe seems to unwittingly stumble into Lett’s life as it begins to fall apart.
The opening of the documentary shows Lett outside of a club, having been thrown out, quite obviously under the influence. We are immediately confronted with Lett’s anger as he slams out his rhyming wall of words and reveals much more than he was ever willing to show us. This is a broken man with all the markers of a suffering addict – self-righteousness, self-centredness, self-obsession, self-deception, self-deprecation, and self-rejection. Addiction is probably the best word to describe the lostness that permeates our society and Lett is quite obviously lost.
This is certainly not a comfortable watch and often feels intrusive. Tighe does not turn away from the discomfort he leans in and captures the relentless demands that being lost places on a man.
Lett is an educated man with a degree in teaching drama who drifted into stand up comedy and begins to lose himself to what he does. Being a comedian offered Lett success and recognition but when he began to grasp at that success it consumed him, much like the drugs.
This is addiction, the want to grasp at desires and to pursue doggedly regardless of consequences or to reject all that is unpleasant or to numb out difficult emotions. Tighe follows Lett through all of it and we witness his anger, denial, shame, fear, disconnection, isolation, hostility, the blaming and mental deterioration. We watch him as he gives us his dressing gown dreams and armchair solutions. We see his obsessive search for the truth as he seeks to discover himself by writing on the walls of his apartment. We watch him as he falls apart.
The first two thirds of the documentary follow Lett’s decline and then he stops drinking. Stopping drinking is not his choice, it is imposed on him because of his chemo but less than sixty days later he drinks again. Lett’s recovery journey begins when he checks into Kinghaven treatment centre. It is not clear if it is a twelve-step treatment centre but he is open about his membership in Alcoholics Anonymous.
I disagree with the counsellor that Lett has several addictions and prefer the idea of Lett having many symptoms that indicate he is an addict. Substance is not the problem. The real problem is the way Lett became of the world rather than in the world. This is what really needs to addressed, so that Lett might learn to regulate his emotions instead of reacting to them. For me, the beginning of his recovery was more difficult to bear witness to than his decline. I think that’s because I am in recovery myself I understand the fragility of the early stages.
I appreciate Tighe’s unflinching approach and dedication to filming over the seven-year period. For me this allowed a deeper insight in to what it means to be in recovery. To stay with the uncertainty and allow life to unfold without controlling outcomes or interfering with the direction it takes us. This is a big ask for any addict. To move from fear to faith. We see the beginning of Lett’s surrender and his struggles with finding the courage to change and embracing a life committed to the practice of spiritual principles.
Lett realises that his comedic gift is not compromised by his decision to live a spiritual life. He is no longer of the world; he is not a slave to his art but learns to be a master of it. His daughter Breanna also learns to overcome and find meaning in her suffering.
It is a compelling depiction of human resilience and a solid example of the rewards found in a life of humility in service to others. The title works both ways, addiction will never be done and recovery is the same – we can be master or slave.
I think this is a must watch for anyone who is interested in addiction and recovery.
Jane Gallacher is a manager of existential meltdowns at Dining Table, an established family run business founded in 1996. Mother to three daughters. Friend to the unhinged. Lover of dogs, seeker of truths, empathetic listener with a penchant for gallows humour.
I must admit, after watching for the first 15 minutes I thought here we go, another poorly made documentation of a man destroying himself. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
This raw, uncensored presentation of the struggles of addiction, centred around a giant of a personality, is as real as it gets in self realisation and self empathy. It becomes very clear that the hard hitting, no punches pulled, often hurtful words, we’re never intended for the audience but for himself.
It’s a fascinating look into sobriety, without delving into the hows, just the whys.
I expect it takes a certain type of person to be as candid and honest about oneself as Richard was. I’m proud to be who I am, and where I am, owning and accepting your problem are the first real steps in Recovery.
As for my recovery, I am very lucky to have had the greatest of support. I’ve only let a decade of my life slip by in the wind. What started out as an ego trip of who can drink the most, became a dampener to numb the feelings of resentment I had for myself. As with the film, I’ve really had to work hard to discover that person I am and to love and live again. A work in progress, as they say “a masterpiece is never complete”.
I personally find the subject very interesting, reading literature from Dr. Mate through to Eckhart Tolle, I think recovery as a whole needs more exposure, and the UK is a fantastic resource. People in recovery are the uncounted statistic in the world of drugs. As survivors, I think we have a lot of work to do to break down stigmatic barriers and common opinion that a “druggie” is no longer a person. They are just running from something that pains them in some way. Quote Gabor Mate:
“I don’t ask why the addiction, but why the pain”.
I would love to see more films on the subject, the only commercially prevalent one that springs to mind is the two part Trainspotting, which in its own way documents Renton’s road to recovery through running. And that is no documentary, but very accurate in its depiction.
Addiction in lockdown I have no doubt has sky rocketed with people looking to escape and the magnification of already underlying issues such as anxiety or depression. The uncertainty of what is going to happen is a scary prospect. A reality to escape, if ever there was one. There’s probably a lot more people out there who are addicted and don’t even realise they have a problem.
The only and best advice I could give anyone seeking sobriety is to be honest with yourself, if the time has come and you really want to make this change, go to get some help. I know you’ll need it. If you’re lucky to have loved ones around you, be honest with them, you will need them to understand this is not an easy path, and their support could be crucial. And finally accept responsibility for your problem but never beat yourself up over it, you have the ability to be whoever you want to be. It just takes hard work and positive surroundings to realise that goal. What has happened is gone, what will be is yet to come. Let’s just enjoy right now, and what we have.
I’d recommend watching ‘Never Be Done’, I was so glad by the end, it turned into a real happy ever after story.
Richard is a volunteer at his local rehabilitation service, CGL. He finds using his lived experience as a way to ‘not have wasted time in my life’. He has plans to go to university to study social work and seek employment in the recovery services.
‘Never Be Done – The Richard Glen Lett Story’ can be viewed on:
Amazon Prime Video https://t.co/bUb3nQwa9u (Worldwide)
Apple TV / iTunes https://t.co/ADd2fLkseZ (Worldwide)
Vimeo https://t.co/XJvGsTuY10 (Worldwide)
YouTube Movies https://t.co/NSrBJCziGO (USA, Great Britain Only)
Microsoft Xbox https://t.co/aHDWRhhdcn (USA, Great Britain Only)
Google Play https://t.co/JY6DSRL096 (USA, Great Britain Only)